Warnock’s small changes could have a big effect

Neil Warnock

As a Leeds fan, the BBC’s The Four Year Plan documentary left two over-riding thoughts.

The first – if only.

If only a businessman such as Amit Bhatia and his investors resided in the boardroom at Elland Road, in place of the current regime. If only we had an ambitious owner with the ability to lure lucrative sponsors, rather than little-known ‘no win, no fee’ lawyers and a desire to develop a relationship between the club and its supporters, instead of dismissing any fan who criticises the owner as a ‘dissident’ or ‘moron’.

The second thought was a little more encouraging – Neil Warnock.

Walking through the corridors of QPR’s training ground on his first day, he gestured towards a sign on the dressing room door, which proclaimed ‘WINNERS ONLY’.

“We’ll have to take that off,” he said.

His first few months in charge at Loftus Road were about small changes, which had big effects. Aside from tweaking the playing staff, the vast majority of his success in keeping the club in the division came by instilling belief in his players. He seemingly received more commitment and passion from the squad than they had mustered during the club’s entire turbulent period of managerial changes.

The documentary aired during a time where Neil Warnock is attempting to save Leeds United’s season and lead the club on to similar success. A playing squad low on confidence, a defence near incapable of protecting a clean sheet and a group of supporters left disillusioned by an owner who threatens to leave them alienated from the club they love.

If Saturday’s performance against league-leaders Southampton was anything to go by, Warnock has already set about making changes, not only tactically, but also psychologically. Installing Robert Snodgrass as Leeds captain was something many supporters had expected Simon Grayson to do upon Jonny Howson’s departure. Aside from his sizable talent, Snodgrass encompasses everything a Leeds supporter demands from players – passion and pride.

Before Saturday’s fixture, Warnock had mentioned on a number of occasions that he wants to lead his side out to a packed-out Elland Road. The attendance fell well short last weekend, but if the side are capable of recreating one of the most exciting and promising performances since the 4-0 thrashing of Nottingham Forest several months back, those watching on Sky back at home will surely swap their sofas for the stands.

The result seemed irrelevant. Similarly, a 0-0 draw away at Hull City on Tuesday feels likes progress, as after many months of negativity and bitterness emanating from the chairman’s office and translating onto the pitch, the focus seems to be back on the football itself. The Elland Road crowd were back on side, producing the noise and the support with which the stadium is synonymous.

Campaigns by the LUFC Trust are as likely to continue as the chairman is likely to shift blame upon others in his programme notes, but for now at least, it’s exciting to have the focus, at least on a match day, back on winning games and taking steps towards getting back into the Premier League.

Written by Pete Allison, We Are Going Up’s Leeds United blogger

Pete tweets at @Pete_Allison

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